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Monday, June 30, 2008

When Auto-Replace Backfires

Some things just tickle the funny bone and today one of those things hit me. Sites that use auto-replace on certain words to be politically correct can see that attempt to manipulate what readers see, backfire in a tremendous manner. The American Family Association has a site called OneNewsNow and evidently they didn't like their readers seeing the word "gay" when referring to homosexuals, so they set up an auto-replace system that would change the words of certain stories to replace them with politically correct words.

Can anyone think of a specific danger in this process?

Obviously they didn't and they didn't think it through very well either.

There was an Associated Press article about a sprinter named Tyson Gay who won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

Beginning to get the feeling that something went very wrong?

The headline on the OneNewsNow was changed from "Gay eases into 100 final at Olympic trials" to "Homosexual eases into 100 final at Olympic trials".

Throughout the article the man's name was changed to homosexual where his last name of "gay" was written.

Tyson Homosexual easily won his semifinal for the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and seemed to save something for the final later Sunday.

His wind-aided 9.85 seconds was a fairly cut-and-dry performance compared to what happened a day earlier. On Saturday, Homosexual misjudged the finish in his opening heat and had to scramble to finish fourth, then in his quarterfinal a couple of hours later, ran 9.77 to break the American record that had stood since 1999.

The American Family Association did discover the little problem and corrected it post haste, but not before People for the American way caught it as a screen shot.

(Click image to enlarge)

As is pointed out at People for the American Way, this is not a new problem and although they did fix that particular article, they didn't fix some others.

Memphis Grizzlies backers hit the hay hoping that Kevin Love would open things up for Rudy Homosexual in the frontcourt.

The man's name is Rudy Gay, not Rudy Homosexual.

Other examples of headlines, via screenshots, are shown over at People for the American Way.